The days are getting shorter, but the sun is still bright enough to kiss the corners of your eyes with new crow’s feet wrinkles while it’s out. There are far less grasshoppers than in July, largely replaced by cicadas and crickets to provide an evening symphony. The landscape is quickly turning to shades of yellow, golden, and brown as the farmers haul off their last bales, till the ground and plant winter wheat. Many chicken owners have to be more careful this time of year. Trucks and tractors hauling their wheat seeds leave tiny morsels of grain on highway roadsides. I saw a dead chicken on our highway and realized that we should move our coop further away from the road. A late September storm caused us to move it anyway. Heavy winds blew the roof off the coop and toppled it over on its side, leaving very wet, cold chicks peeping loudly for help while searching for shelter. We quickly reassembled the coop and scooped up all the shivering chickadoos into a cooler.
Some were fairly comatose. We set up the heat lamp on the kitchen table and used towels and a blow-dryer to warm the chicks and bring them back to life. One Dominique didn’t make it. Within hours though, they were back on the lawn, peeping and scratching for bugs.
A sad day in Dog-ville also took a Dominique’s life. That little bird became a great lesson for Key, the Great Pyrenees. We attached the limp chicken body (we caught Key in the act of “playing” with it) to his collar and isolated him from the other dogs. I’ve heard that this is the best way to cure a dog of chicken harassment. We left him tied to a tree (with food and water of course) for 3 days and paid him no attention. The carcass began to get pretty rank. Then, on the 3rd day, the carcass disappeared and we just hoped the lesson had been learned.
Unfortunately, the very next day, after a “Mommy, come quick!” I went out to the coop to find both outside dogs inside the coop! If you have ever met a Great Pyrenees you can imagine how funny it was to see him crawl out of the 1′ by 1′ chicken door! No chicks were hurt this time. Oh, and by the way, Azaylia Jane, the best dog in the world, know that the chicks are not food or dog toys. I simply told her the day we brought the chicks home. “Now, Zail, these are not food or dog toys,” and, besides sniffing their little chicken butts, she hasn’t bothered them. She and I just love to spend dinnertime gathered around the coop, watching the birds, when many other Americans are watching TV.
Other time this month has been spent drawing up designs for our Earthbag home, though we are still waiting for that right-of-way. When I was little, I used to like to draw home designs on grid paper. I think I even wanted to be an architect for a period of time. I usually drew huge mansions with lots of guest rooms and an art studio. While our first Earthbag home will be nowhere near that extravagant, it will have an art nook or project room. We’re planning on a 3 dome style, where the central dome is the largest and the smaller domes contain the bedrooms and bathrooms. It is quite fun designing our own home. I find that, just like writing essays, if I get up and leave the design work alone for a few hours, when I come back to it, I have a fresh perspective and new ideas.
Sometimes I look around the farm and feel overwhelmed about all that needs to be done. I worry about Oklahoma’s weather extremes. On bad days, I fear all our chickens will be gobbled up by coyotes, all our vegetables ripped out of the ground by heavy winds, and my skin becoming cancerous from this intense sun. But, on some days, like today, I can sit out here in the afternoon, with a slight breeze and the temperature about 82 degrees, and I look up at the gorgeous blue sky and I feel like, if there are beauteous days like this only 25% of the time, I’ll be content.